- Pittsburgh is a finalist for Amazon’s HQ2.
- Local residents can’t stop talking about the company possibly picking their town as the location of its next headquarters.
- Competition to land the $ 5 billion project is stiff.
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburghers can’t stop talking about Amazon’s HQ2.
The city is locked in a heated competition with the other 19 finalists to land Amazon’s $ 5 billion second headquarters, which promises to bring more than 50,000 jobs to the winning city.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said recently that he has yet to hear from Amazon about a visit to the city, but added that representatives are “probably” touring the city “and will continue to be here without telling us.”
“I really don’t expect that they’re going to just come in for one visit,” he said. “I’m assuming that when they get down through the proposals and start looking at all the different cities that they’ll be in all the cities with different groups on a continual basis.”
Meanwhile, the city is locked in a legal battle to keep its Amazon proposal — complete with the tax breaks it would provide the internet giant — secret. And some residents believe the company would bring more problems than benefits to the city.
“As much as the jobs would be great, the traffic is going to be insane,” Marge Eiben, 54 of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, told Business Insider ahead of a rally for Democratic candidate Conor Lamb in the special congressional election taking place in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, adding that housing costs will soar in the region if Amazon picks Pittsburgh.
“A lot of things are going to change for Pittsburgh and while there’s good things, I’m not sure everything about it is good,” she continued. “I think that we’re expanding. … We’re kind of going along on our own. We’ve got some other things happening. I’m not saying we don’t need Amazon but I don’t know if we need the headache that comes with Amazon.”
The traffic element is one of the downsides that could hold Pittsburgh’s bid back. Amazon would like to pick a city with a robust public transportation system, and Pittsburgh’s may not be up to par with some of its competitors in the Washington, DC, area and New York, for example.
Mary Ann Cupples Wisniowski, chair of the Collier, Pennsylvania Democratic Committee, told Business Insider that the public transportation system could be a detractor, but cited the city’s growing tech sector and college-educated workforce as reasons why she is “thinking that we have a chance.”
“We definitely believe that we have a chance,” Darrin Kelly, a Pittsburgh firefighter and president of the Allegheny/Fayette Central Labor Council, told Business Insider prior to giving opening remarks at a rally for Lamb. “I think that America in general is all going for the Amazon headquarters. If we don’t get Amazon, the fact that we’re being recognized as a town that is progressive enough to get it” is huge.
Kelly said an under-the-radar benefit for Amazon is a lack of major labor problems in the region. He said the relationship between local politicians and unions are strong.
“It would be over the rainbow for us,” Kelly said of landing HQ2. “We would be so happy if we got it. It is an economy-changing type of thing.”
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